Written by Fajar binti Benjamin
Edited by Samantha
On Thursday the 15th of November, Sunway University’s Psychology degree students with help from Sunway Psychology Club held a special project in which they collected items of students’ break-ups and displayed them in the Art Gallery for all to see. The items ranged widely, not only in the physicality of what they were, but also in the background stories they were accompanied with. Some items only had short, curt explanations accompanying them while some had long-winding and heart-wrenching stories. All display cards also included the length of the relationship, often causing the viewer to speculate the dynamics of the relationship based on its length alone. Whatever the case, each item was unique and imparted a lesson upon the viewer.
Doors opened at 12pm and the exhibition, dubbed fittingly “The Break-up Exhibition” stayed open until 9pm. One of the first items that caught people’s eye was a t-shirt, the story displayed above was short and sweet. A relationship of one and a half years, the caption read “I got us a couple shirt with our names and anniversary date on it as a gift. I bought it because she always wanted something we could wear as a couple although she hardly or never wore it. This is the last thing I have of our relationship”. This story set the bittersweet tone of the exhibition, showing that the contributor made efforts to please his ex, although she didn’t reciprocate.
Another display that stood out was simply a beer can. The story depicted below it was not of the typical boyfriend-girlfriend relationship break-up but of the break-up between a father and child. The father, once loving, turned abusive after losing his job, leaving his child only with horrific memories of being beaten by an alcoholic. This can was definitely one of the more touching items on display.
There were many more items of interest, strung up against display boards or laid strategically on desks. Many items were trinkets such as pens, keychains, cheap jewellery and even a zip bag full of ticket stubs. Soothing music played over as students milled around, reading different stories that caught their eye.
An interview with one of the organisers revealed that the purpose of the exhibition was to raise awareness on how relationship break-ups can affect people and to assist them to a better future. The overall emotional atmosphere that they were going for was “sad” and “retrospective”. She mentioned her favourite item was the beer can.
A group of three girls also expressed how much they were enjoying the exhibition. “It’s just so crazy to see all these items and know that they were once real expressions of love . . . And now it’s all over and the items are here,” one girl mentioned. Another thoughtfully expressed that the exhibition put her in a grieving mood as it brought back memories of her own break-ups. “I think it’s really meaningful what they’re doing here, and it’s so interesting too. I didn’t know there could be so many interesting things to gift your partners,” the last girl said laughingly.
If photos were to carry a thousand words within them, maybe items hold a lifetime of memories. The exhibition was a pleasure to experience; it gave viewers a sense of what young love as a student in Malaysia was like and taught a harsh lesson – even the sincerest of efforts cannot save a relationship that isn’t destined to last.